Whether you just want to be a tourist in your own city or entertain your out-of-town guests or kids for winter break, San Antonio has a variety of Christmas events throughout the holidays which are sure to make everyone happy.
In addition to simply strolling along the beautiful River Walk, you and your family can enjoy a festive experience when San Antonio’s quintessential tourist stop will be lit up with more than 2,000 luminarias between December 1 and 17 on weekend nights. The traditional Mexican Christmas lantern tradition begins at dusk on Fridays and brings a soft glow to the river. In addition to luminarias, The River Walk will be decorated with 122,000 lights draped over the bald cypress trees along the river the day after Thanksgiving until the new year. In addition, the San Antonio River Authority covers the path along the river between Grayson Street and Lexington Avenue with lights. Along the way, you can stop in at one (or more) of the yummy dining or dessert establishments along the way.
To give you plenty of ideas on how to enjoy the holiday season here in San Antonio, we’ve included some of our favorite Christmas events, including The Lights Festival San Antonio, San Antonio River Walk Christmas lights boat tour and other San Antonio Christmas 2017 events. Get ready to have a jolly good time!
San Antonio in December: Weather Tips and Considerations
Here in San Antonio, we have fairly mild winters, which allows our almost 1.5 million residents to enjoy many different types of holiday activities, including those that take place outdoors. Weather.com forecasts a pleasant December with highs in the upper 60s at the beginning of December and falling into the lower 60s by the end of the month. Lows will range from mid-40s at the beginning of December to the low 40s as we near the new year.
Accuweather.com has a slightly different forecast with high temperatures ranging throughout the month from low 70s to mid-50s and lows ranging from high 40s to low 30s. As anyone who has lived in Texas knows, however, our weather can change at the drop of the hat, so keep that in mind if you are new to town or entertaining out of town guests.
Remember to take a jacket when you will be out during the day and into the night. After the sun goes down and temperatures start dropping, us Texans need the extra protection against even the slightest cold weather!
The Lights Festival San Antonio
This lighted winter wonderland runs every night from November 23 through December 31 in Boerne from 6-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturdays. This favorite holiday happening features two million lights in the form of light tunnels and holiday displays along a path which can be enjoyed either by driving your own vehicle ($27 per car), by hayride ($15 per person) or even on a private hayride ($150 for up to 25 guests).
After you see all the lights, you can stop into Santa’s Village for some holiday gift shopping, decorate a holiday cookie, visit with Santa and fill up on hot chocolate, make-your-own-s’mores, kettle corn, sausage on a stick and an even larger selection of food and drinks on the weekends.
If you decide to jump on a hayride, feel free to bring a blanket to help keep you warm. Don’t forget to visit Santa’s Longhorns for a special Texas Christmas at the Don Strange Ranch and a festive small town experience.
San Antonio Riverwalk Christmas Lights Boat Tour
A unique way to view the dazzling lights display along the River Walk is by boat. Now operated by GO RIO, these narrated boat tours and boat taxis on new barges feature new seating arrangements. In addition to enjoying the lights, which will be up from November 25 through January 7, you can schedule your tour to coincide with other seasonal events, such as the Ford Fiesta de las Luminarias, Ford Holiday Boat Caroling and the Holiday Artisan Show. To board, just go to one of the GO RIO taxi spots along the River Walk. There are signs posted to help you find your way.
If you’re interested in boat caroling, you should know that pre-registration is required, and that you can book a ticket between December 1 and 22 on any day of the week except Mondays. The boats will be decorated with lights and holiday decor, have an iPOD loaded with Christmas music and a music lyric binder to help everyone sing along. Each boat can hold a maximum of 15 adults or 20 youth.
Tickets may be purchased online and are not time specific. They range in price from $6 – $12 per person. They will begin offering dinner barges soon. For more information, you can call (210) 227-4746.
San Antonio Christmas 2017
There are so many other holiday events for us to enjoy that we can’t name them all, but here are a few for you to consider which range in price to fit any budget.
Light the Way
University of Incarnate Word’s annual holiday celebration is changing a bit this year. The kick-off celebration will be held on November 18 in the front of the campus at 4301 Broadway at 6:30 p.m. and have a festival-type atmosphere with food trucks, free cookies and hot chocolate, selfies with Santa and performances by choirs and groups from UIW and the Brainpower Connection schools. The campus will continue to light up with nearly a million lights through the beginning of January in case you can’t make the kick-off event.
The Children’s Nutcracker
An all-children cast ages 3-19 will recreate this holiday favorite with a performance on November 17, 7-9 p.m. and two on November 18, 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. This year, almost 200 dancers auditioned from 52 studios across the state.
Tower of the Americas
For stunning views of the lit up city, head up to the observation deck at the top of the 750-foot-tall structure which was built in 1968 for the World’s Fair. In addition to a fine-dining restaurant which revolves slowly so you can take in all of the views, there is a 4D Theatre ride for your kids.
Santa’s Railroad Wonderland
Perfect for the little cabooses, the Texas Transportation Museum transforms its 40 acres into a decorated Christmas wonderland where you can see the historic depot, trains, the garden railroad and a scale model railroad layouts. A nighttime train ride is included with admission.
Santa’s Railroad Wonderland is open on December 9, 10, 16, 17 and 23 from 6-9 p.m. Visitors are asked to arrive before 8 p.m. and the last train ride is at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are free for children under 4, $10 for children 4-12 and $12 for adults.
SeaWorld San Antonio Holiday Events
This iconic theme park transforms with into a magical affair with 8 million twinkling lights from November 18 through January 2. The park features 15 different lands with different themes. For an additional cost, you can have dinner and a story with Santa and Mrs. Claus or dinner with Rudolph and his friends. You can also take advantage of the numerous photo opportunities with characters near Nautilus Amphitheater or check out the 27-foot tall Christmas tree and light show which is arranged to Christmas songs.
Each of the shows changes to have a Christmas twist with Shamu Christmas: Miracles, A Dolphin Christmas, Clyde & Seamore’s Countdown to Christmas, Jinglin’ Around the Block Party, a Pets Ahoy Christmas and Reflections.
Prices are $55 for 3-day advance purchase, $69 regular admission, $74 unlimited Fun Card, $54 for groups of 15 or more.
The Nutcracker Ballet
The Nutcracker Ballet runs November 24-26 and December 1-3 at the Tobin Center. Enjoy a fun time for the family to get dressed up to experience Clara’s journey from her home on Christmas Eve to the battle with the Rat King and back again. Tickets range from $24.50 to $129.
Zoo Lights at the San Antonio Zoo begins on November 18 and lasts until December 31. From noon to 9 p.m., you can skate at the new ice rink, ride a camel, sip hot chocolate and roast s’mores while viewing the twinkling lights and light show. Don’t forget to visit Santa! Tickets are $12.25 – $15.50.
Light Up the Nights
The JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country presents Light Up the Nights from November 18 through December 31. The JW turns their outdoor areas into a magical wonderland with thousands of lights set to music and a huge Christmas tree which is open and free to the public and guests. Visit the Gingerbread Village inside which is the culmination of thousands of hours of work by the Resort’s pastry team.
Check the Resort’s website for updates on times for specific events. Guests can enjoy a wide variety of special activities, including breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus, making your own candy cane, elf tuck-in, gingerbread craft workshop and creating your own train car which you can use to join in the locomotive parade.
Holiday in the Park
This annual Six Flags event is a fun way to spend the holidays. Beginning November 18, park visitors can enjoy the Holiday Express train ride, Christmas caroling and a live nativity show as they stroll through the park, which is decked out with millions of lights. Shows take on a holiday theme with an animated caroling Christmas Tree Family and vocal performances by Mary and Joseph during the reenactment of the Nativity scene. Children will enjoy a tour through Santa’s Castle to see the elves working.
Christmas at the Caverns
Visit Natural Bridge Caverns, located 30 miles north of downtown, for special holiday events, including Caroling in the Caverns, a Christmas maze, hayrides, Flying Elf Ziplines and a Christmas Village, complete with shopping, special holiday refreshments and more.
Bass Pro Shop Christmas
Fun for smaller children, the store at 17907 IH 10 West offers a tree lighting, Santa’s Wonderland, carolers and free photos with Santa starting in late November. Check their website for a complete schedule.
ABC Can Cross Items Off Your Holiday To Do List
If you’d rather go have fun with your family and friends rather than untangle your Christmas lights, the professionals at ABC Home & Commercial Services can help! Our helpful employees can put up your holiday lights, in addition to helping get your home ready for holiday gatherings. We can mow your grass, update your landscaping and make sure your home is pest-free so that you can put aside your worries and enjoy this special time of year.